Rota-Scholars offers a unique opportunity for sponsors to become involved with an emerging and changing civilization. Most of our scholarship students are Tarahumara Indians, many of whom have never before left their small ranchitos and quite few of whom have a most minimal elementary school background. Others may be mestizos (bi-racial) from the same communities who find themselves in special situations and whose families are struggling. All students are eager to pursue their education and view their scholarship as an opportunity to positively contribute to their families and to their community.
Life can be difficult for both the Tarahumara Indians and mestizos in the greater Sierra Madre Mountains. Small communities of subsistence farmers sprawl over the mountainsides and children sometimes walk more than an hour, unaccompanied, to get to school. Growing up can be especially challenging for young girls as violence, including sexual violence, seems to be lurking both at home and on the road to and from school. Rota-Scholars provides an opportunity for young women who wish to continue their studies to attend supervised boarding schools. These schools provide protection as well as an education.
Rota-Scholars begins supporting students after they graduate from the sixth grade and continues to support them until their education is complete. Some students graduate from high school and return to their home communities as nurses, teachers, and even as nuns. Others only finish a year or two before dropping out. Though many people would consider these latter students as failures, they are part of a growing success story. Every day of education counts and while we hate to lose a student from the program, we know that whatever they have learned will go with them through their lives and affect future generations.
Rota-Scholars does not discriminate except to seek out the most motivated and in-need students from areas no reached by other programs. Because of this direction, most students are Tarahumara Indians with the majority being female. We have found that boys completing sixth grade are frequently more interested in getting on with life than with furthering their education.
The goals of the Rota-Scholars program are many and varied. One overall goal is to slowly improve education levels in pueblos (towns) that have often been at the mercy of those who have more knowledge. Frequently, student’s parents cannot even sign their names and in many cases, their children are the first in their families to graduate from primary school. A slightly more diverse goal is to enable female students a meaningful choice between starting families early (often at 13 or 14) or enjoying their youth and advancing their education in a safe environment. Another goal is being met as our students return to their communities to work professionally and inspire others to continue their education.
Padre Javier Campos, best known as Padre Gallo, a Jesuit priest stationed with the Cerocahui parish, explained one cultural consideration best: among other things, Tarahumara students need to become “chameleons,” that is, able to change on the outside to work within different cultures while retaining their Tarahumara soul inside. Many of these students who attend - especially Catholic boarding schools - insist on traditional clothing and work hard to keep traditional customs alive within their hearts.
We hope you will consider giving a student the opportunity to continue with his or her education and to provide a meaningful choice in life. In the school year 2007-2008, sponsors enabled more than 40 children to pursue their education. As we look to the start of the 2008-2009 year, many more students are looking for help and they truly need your support. Each sponsor receives a photograph and information about the student, a Christmas greeting as well as periodic reports on their academic progress. When the student graduates from school, sponsors are invited to accompany their student when he or she receives their diploma.
Please continue to read about our students, many of whom are without sponsors for the upcoming year. If you see one whose story touches you, consider helping that child. Scholarships cost $200 (US) to $500 for the entire year. This cost includes materials, uniforms, dormitory and meal costs. We frequently receive funds from clubs or individuals who join to completely sponsor a child while others make small contributions which go into a general fund for helping various students. In either case, your donation is greatly appreciated!
ROTA-SCHOLARS is a qualified 501(c)(3) organization
identification number: 26-0426525.
For more information, you can write us at:
Rota-Scholars is a qualified 501(c)(3) organization
tax identification number: 26-0426525.